Students take sexual assault to social media

Seamus Rafferty posted this meme to the UConn Buy or Sell Facebook page on Thursday following an incident of sexual assault. He intended the meme to further expose the aggressor, but instead got very mixed reviews from other students. (Seamus Rafferty/Facebook)

Last Thursday UConn Police arrested and charged UConn student Samuel Manzolillo with second-degree breach of peace and fourth-degree sexual assault after he aggressively grabbed a woman’s buttocks and fled the scene, according to a police report.

Shortly after the incident occurred, memes containing images of Manzolillo were posted on UConn’s Buy or Sell Facebook page, causing mixed emotions from other students.

Seamus Rafferty, a student at UConn, posted one of the memes of Manzolillo. He edited him into the famous scene from Finding Nemo where he “touches the butt.” He said that this was never a joke at the victim’s expense.  

“I wanted to bring attention to the accused and have him more recognized by more of campus and a ‘funny’ image on Buy or Sell is a very good way of reaching a large audience at UConn,” Rafferty said.

Rafferty said he understands the seriousness of the issue in general, and especially on college campuses. He also said he extends his apologies to those who were offended.

“I apologize to anyone offended by it and especially to other victims of sexual assault,” Rafferty said.

A second meme was posted later that day of a picture of Manzolillo fleeing the scene with the caption “Who’s man is this?” Sean Alexander Mathews, who posted it, said that he does not think either sexual harassment or assault is acceptable.

“I do think that putting an offender on blast is acceptable, in whichever ironic ways one would see fit,” Mathews said.

The memes caused several students to express their views on the matter.

"It doesn't really matter how it progressed. All that matters is that he grabbed her without consent and she felt uncomfortable enough to go to the police about it...not really something to laugh about," UConn student Emily Ann Bramande said.


Emma DeGrandi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.degrandi@uconn.edu.